2022 Year in Review

One thing is certain in this house: our dog is clearly very neglected at meal time and while I may have cooked from 59 countries this year, she saw very little of that level of variety and excitement in her dog dish. But still, since her begging face is something I saw a lot of in 2022, I thought I’d give her a little shout out for her sustained efforts. But in all seriousness, similar to last year, I wanted to reflect on the past year of this cooking project and highlight some of my favorite dishes of the past year. I continue to be surprised by so many of the dishes I cook, to discover flavor combinations that either I wouldn’t think would work together or that I’d enjoy as much as I did.

Normally I would have had a jumpstart on this post in late December but a nasty bout of the flu delayed things a bit. But without further adieu, I picked a dozen or so favorites from this year and have listed them below.

Feijoada (Brazil)– This was one of those dishes with a seemingly random assortment of ingredients that just worked. Being from Brazil, it was of course meat heavy but there were some interesting flavors that rose to the surface without a lot of spices which made the end result kind of magical. This was one of the first dishes I made in 2022 and remains memorable to this day.

Sorese Bata Diya Maccha (Bangladesh)– This was a great, spicy fish dish that was impressive in both flavor and presentation despite pretty minimal ingredients and prep time. I used salmon for my fish of choice for this “spicy mustard with leeks” preparation. Awesome sauce.

Chorba Beida (Algeria)– This take on a chicken noodle soup came from an “international bowl food” recipe book I received for my birthday and was just a bit different than your mom’s take on this classic comfort meal but hit all the same notes. With the addition of chickpeas, this provided a nice bowl of protein along with the broth during the cold winter months.

Khao Soi (Thailand)– This is one of the few dishes in this list that I’d eaten prior to making the dish which I think in a way can help with its preparation but if we’re being honest, I will not find, nor create, Khao Soi here that can possibly compare with the real thing. I’m starting to see this dish on more Thai restaurants in recent years (I first tried it in Chiang Mai in 2012) and I think this is a fantastic upward trend.

Char Kway Teow (Malaysia) – I wasn’t too familiar with Malaysian food until a wonderful restaurant opened a few years ago in my old D.C. neighborhood. This was one of their signature dishes and I’ll plan to make this again and again if for no other reason than the sweetness of the Chinese sausage paired with shrimp and noodle. Perfection.

Korvapuusti (Finland) – It’s a rare a breakfast or dessert dish rises to the top of my list for the year but this take on cinnamon rolls earned its spot. With a heavy dose of cardamom these “smooshed” looking cinnamon rolls (or knots depending on who you ask) made my house smell amazing and was worth the extra time it took to proof and make this dough from scratch.

Slaii (Swaziland) – This was probably the easiest dish I made all year but also one of the more surprising ones so it earned its slot on this list. Essentially this was an African take on guacamole with fresh avocado and peanuts with a little bit of different flavoring that one might expect. I loved serving this with watermelon radishes.

Thakkali Curry (Sri Lanka) – I don’t dislike tomatoes, in fact I enjoy them in so many dishes. But a curry that used tomatoes as the focus? I was skeptical but so glad I heeded the advice of the recipe and made this during the peak of tomato season. If you’re hosting a vegetarian for a summer meal, this is the dish to make.

Mishkaki and Khubz (Oman) – I made a few kebabs over the course of the year and they were all tasty. But this beef kebab with this homemade flat bread stood out for a beef kebab and I liked making these with a picture of other meats from other countries. But it deserves its own mention.

Okonamayaki (Japan) – I wrote about this extensively in the blog post, but I was surprised with the food in Japan at every turn when I traveled there a few years ago. So when I had an opportunity to try one of the more unexpected dishes, the Hiroshima (or Osaka variation) savory pancake, I jumped on it. It’s a little tricky but so flavorful and one that I can only imagine I’ll get better at pulling together over time. And I do intend to practice.

Ghapama (Armenia) – This stuffed pumpkin was a showstopper and the type of dish that looks like it belongs on your Instagram feed. But not only did it look impressive, it tasted incredible. Stuffed with rice, dried fruits and nuts, this was the holiday season wrapped up in a perfect bow of a side dish.

Peruvian Chicken (Peru) – There is probably a more formal name for this dish but in our neighborhood, there are a host of “Peruvian chicken” places and this dish captured that flavor, down to the green cilantro sauce to dip the chicken in. The only thing missing was a rotisserie but we simply don’t have the counter space! 🙂

Squash and Peanut Stew (Chad) – This was one of the last dishes I made in 2022 and was a fitting end to a year full of unexpected vegetarian-based dishes (such as this one) and an even deeper appreciation for peanuts in all of their forms. Plus it was a good way to use up some squash.

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